By Ellie Price
INDIANAPOLIS – Students will soon be able to count all of their credits from an associate’s degree toward a bachelor’s degree at a public university due to a new state law.
Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, said Senate Enrolled Act 182 is extensive legislation that could impact tens of thousands of students who are currently in the system.
Although the new law goes into effect July 1, the committee that will develop the pathways to degree program will be available to students beginning in the fall of 2015.
In order for credits from associate’s degrees to count, students must pursue a similar concentration for the bachelor’s degree.
Many of Banks’ constituents attend Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne. He said he was troubled to hear that some students completed courses at IPFW but were unable to transfer those credits to a different Indiana University or Purdue University campus.
Banks said he considers it common for students to pursue a bachelor’s degree after receiving an associate’s degree.
“Before this legislation, it was like starting all over again,” Banks said. “Instead of a bachelor’s degree being an extension, it was like pursuing a whole new degree all over again.”
Banks estimates that this law could save Hoosier college students up to 40 percent of the cost of a four-year bachelor’s degree by starting at a community college.
“That’s a tremendous amount of saving if they took the path of acquiring an associate’s degree first,” he said.
Teresa Taber Doughtry, the chairwoman of Purdue University’s core curriculum committee and a special education professor, said she believes several students with an associate’s degree come to Purdue for a bachelor’s degree.
Purdue currently evaluates credits from an associate’s degree on a course-by-course basis.
Taber Doughtry said advisers often try to steer students to take certain courses for an associate’s degree that will transfer to a Purdue University campus for a bachelor’s degree.
Last year, the General Assembly passed a law that required universities and the Commission for Higher Education to create a transfer library of courses that would be accepted at all state universities.
This year’s law requires the core transfer library to include liberal arts and introductory courses in technical, professional and occupational fields.
“It ensures all of our students are leaving this institution with critical skills that are considered valuable by employers,” Taber Doughty said. “These are skills that make them much more employable and good citizens as well.”
Ellie Price is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.